Randy Alcorn’s The Treasure Principle does not look like a book I would typically read. It’s a short, small format hardcover (a la The Prayer of Jabez) with a title that conjures prosperity gospel promises of blessings from God in this life. Precisely the sort of book I would usually avoid reading. But I’ve recently had several brushes with Alcorn’s material, appreciated much of what he had to say, and had intended to pick up one of his many books when I had the chance. It just happened that the first Alcorn book I ran across was The Treasure Principle. And I’m very glad it was.
Despite what the title might lead you to assume, The Treasure Principle is not about gaining treasure in this world. Rather, the book is grounded in Jesus’ words from Matthew 6:
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”–Matthew 6:19-21
Alcorn points out that one of our advantages as Christians is we know, one way or another, the end of this life is coming:
As a Christian, you have inside knowledge of an eventual worldwide upheaval caused by Christ’s return. This is the ultimate insider trading tip: Earth’s currency will become worthless when Christ returns – or when you die, whichever comes first. (And either event could happen at any time.)
Because we know this life will come to an end and everything we have will be left behind, Alcorn wisely encourages us to follow the Treasure Principle: “You can’t take it with you–but you can send it on ahead.”
If you feel uncomfortable with the idea that Christians ought to be motivated by Heavenly reward (and not just the love of God), Alcorn reminds the reader that it is Jesus Himself who told us to store up treasure in Heaven. “If it were wrong,” Alcorn writes, “Christ wouldn’t offer it to us as a motivation. Reward is His idea, not ours.”
Alcorn then expands the Treasure Principle into 6 “Treasure Principle Keys”:
1) God owns everything; I’m His money manager.
We are the managers of the assets God has entrusted–not given–to us.
2) My heart always goes where I put God’s money.
Watch what happens when you reallocate your money from temporal things to eternal things.
3) Heaven–the New Earth, not the present one–is my home.
We are citizens of “a better country–a heavenly one”. (Hebrews 11:16)
4) I should live today not for the dot, but for the line.
From the dot–our present life on earth–extends a line that goes on forever, which is eternity in Heaven.
5) Giving is the only antidote to Materialism.
Giving is a joyful surrender to a greater person and a greater agenda. It dethrones me and exalts Him.
6) God prospers me not to raise my standard of living, but to raise my standard of giving.
God gives us more money than we need so we can give–generously.
The Treasure Principle is overflowing with great illustrations and anecdotes supporting Alcorn’s keys. One of the most powerful anecdotes comes from Alcorn’s own life: he has been forced by a multi-million dollar court judgment to live on minimum wage since the early ’90s. Yet Alcorn views this turn of events as “one of the best things that ever happened” because “God used it to help [him] understand what He means by ‘Everything under Heaven belongs to me’ (Job 41:11).”
The book concludes with “31 Radical, Liberating Questions to Ask God About Your Giving” which give a practical way to move forward with shifting your finances toward storing up treasure in the next life.
If you’ve been a Christian for any amount of time I suspect none of the ideas Alcorn presents will be new or surprising to you. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read this book. If you’re like me you often go about your day storing up treasures in this world while paying lip service to the next life, and I found The Treasure Principle to be the “shot in the arm” I needed to push me to the next step of faith in giving.
In The Treasure Principle Randy Alcorn excels at encouraging the reader to shift their focus off the treasure of this world and on to the next. I agree with Alcorn when he says in the book:
The fact that you’re reading these words is likely part of God’s plan to change your life–and in turn to change history and eternity.
Never condemning but often convicting, The Treasure Principle is a book every Christian ought to read while conducting a self-evaluation of where their treasure is being stored up. If you take the teachings of this book seriously you won’t be able to walk away unchanged.
Rating: 5/5 stars